How To Hire Humble Leaders
When asked to describe the characteristics of prominent business leaders like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos most would use words like charismatic, innovative or brilliant. Humility probably isn't a topic of discussion during these conversations. Yet a recent study published by the Journal of Management showed that CEOs with humility led to higher-performing leadership teams, increased collaboration and greater cooperation and flexibility when developing new strategies.
According to Jeff Hyman, professor at Kellogg School of Management professor and executive search firm chief talent officer, there is nothing about humility that makes it incompatible with strength and courage. Hyman writes: "In 25 years of recruiting, I've observed that leadership is far less about style than it is about execution. Some leaders are screamers while others are quiet and introverted. Some are intuitive geniuses and others are total pragmatists. But regardless of their approach, at the end of the day, leaders must inspire trust, cooperation and commitment among the workforce." And that is where humility pays the deepest dividends.
In a recent article, Hyman noted that too few companies are actively searching for leaders with humility. He outlined key questions companies should ask when identifying and hiring humble leaders, which we'll share in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.
Do they credit others? If a candidate does not recognize the efforts made by others in the company and instead takes full credit for shared successes, then he or she is demonstrating the opposite of humility, which is pride. Pride can certainly be an asset in some situations, but not at the professional expense of one's colleagues.
Do they admit to mistakes? Everybody makes mistakes, but it takes humility to admit to those mistakes. Be wary of a candidate who plays the blame game and faults others for his or her errors instead of taking personal responsibility. Humility requires one to admit to personal faults, to show interest in understanding how the mistake occurred, and to ensure that it does not happen again, going forward.
Do they accept constructive feedback? How does the candidate respond to criticism? Does he or she accept the critique, taking it into consideration for future projects? Or does the candidate become defensive or uncomfortable? A good indicator of one's response to feedback is how the candidate responded to criticism in previous jobs. The strongest candidates will recognize the importance of constructive comments and reply with gratitude.
Do they strive to overcome their weaknesses? We all have weaknesses, but it demonstrates willingness to change and improve when we acknowledge them. Does the candidate acknowledge weaknesses in his or her skill set, and most importantly, what has the candidate done—and what is the candidate currently doing—to overcome these weaknesses?
Do they help others? A key example of humility is the willingness to help others. In earlier positions, how did the candidate manage his or her team? Did the candidate provide the team with the training, tools and support needed to improve professionally? A humble leader will work for the collective advancement of all team members.
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Source: Jeff Hyman is the best-selling author of Recruit Rockstars, a professor at Kellogg School of Management and chief talent officer at Strong Suit Executive Search.